book review

The Past Meets Fiction | The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore

Friday, August 13, 2021

 The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore


Publisher:
Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Pages: 384
Source: publisher (Thank you!) in exchange for an honest review

Stalking Jack the Ripper meets Devil in the White City. In order to save her sister, Zuretta takes a job at a notorious house of horrors—but she might never escape. Zuretta never thought she’d encounter a monster—one of the world’s most notorious serial killers. She had resigned herself to a quiet life in Utah. But when her younger sister, Ruby, travels to Chicago during the World’s Fair, and disappears, Zuretta leaves home to find her. But 1890s Chicago is more dangerous and chaotic than she imagined. She doesn’t know where to start until she learns of her sister’s last place of employment…a mysterious hotel known as The Castle. Zuretta takes a job there hoping to learn more. And before long she realizes the hotel isn’t what it seems. Women disappear at an alarming rate, she hears crying from the walls, and terrifying whispers follow her at night. In the end, she finds herself up against one of the most infamous mass murderers in American history—and his custom-built death trap.

Sisters, Zuretta and Ruby, have always dreamed of leaving their small town and making a name for themselves in the big city. It was always just a dream. Until one night, Ruby decides to leave and put her big dreams into motion. Zuretta remains content for a while, happy to receive Ruby’s letters of her big adventures in Chicago. When Ruby’s letters stop coming, however, Zuretta starts to worry. Convinced that something horrific has befallen her sister, Zuretta makes the journey from Utah to Chicago to find Ruby. However, Zuretta finds something much more sinister than first anticipated. Based on a real-life serial killer case, The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore is a classic whodunit mystery.


  • The mystery is afoot. While I adore reading murder mysteries to immerse myself in a developing mystery that reveals itself the more the story continues, this isn't really that. While Zuretta befalls some hardships, I couldn't help but think that most of the events of the novel were way too convenient. She barely had to walk several feet out her hotel and already a Pinkerton of the renowned detective agency wanted to help solve her case. She barely does any of the sleuthing at all before the mystery of her missing sister is placed before her on a platter. 
  • The story was quite predictable and I guessed whodunit long before it was officially revealed. 
  • Unfortunately, the writing was just not for me. I didn't connect as much to the story as I had hoped. 
  • The characters were quite flat. With Zuretta, there wasn't any connection between reader and protagonist. Zuretta seemed to just be going through the motions, without providing readers with any semblance of personality. While readers were meant to care about finding Ruby, it was difficult to care since every character was two-dimensional and sounded like the same person. 
  • The action sequences left much to be desired. To be honest, the flat characters coupled with the lackluster action made for a tediously slow story.
  • The premise of the novel sounds riveting but the execution left something to be desired. It follows a fictional narrative of a real-life serial killer in Chicago. If you follow real-life serial killers in crime and thriller podcasts, you may enjoy this one. The way in which this was written seems like it was meant for those who already know the nonfictional case that it's based on. Unfortunately, I was not familiar with the case before going into this novel. The author’s note provided some insight into the real-life case. The fictional dramatization of the murders connected the past with fiction. Yet, the mix of fact and fiction did not seem to mesh well, leaving the plot a bit disjointed and flat.
  • Despite the novel’s shortcomings, the ending was empowering. While I was not routing for any of the characters, the ending turned out to still be a satisfying one. 
With its real-life murder case and satisfying ending, The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore is a  thriller that fans of crime podcasts will definitely enjoy.

book review

Sweet Summer Read | We Can't Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Friday, May 28, 2021

 We Can't Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon


Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 8, 2021
Pages: 336
Source: publisher (Thank you!) in exchange for an honest review

Quinn Berkowitz and Tarek Mansour’s families have been in business together for years: Quinn’s parents are wedding planners, and Tarek’s own a catering company. At the end of last summer, Quinn confessed her crush on him in the form of a rambling email—and then he left for college without a response. Quinn has been dreading seeing him again almost as much as she dreads another summer playing the harp for her parents’ weddings. When he shows up at the first wedding of the summer, looking cuter than ever after a year apart, they clash immediately. Tarek’s always loved the grand gestures in weddings—the flashier, the better—while Quinn can’t see them as anything but fake. Even as they can’t seem to have one civil conversation, Quinn’s thrown together with Tarek wedding after wedding, from performing a daring cake rescue to filling in for a missing bridesmaid and groomsman. Quinn can’t deny her feelings for him are still there, especially after she learns the truth about his silence, opens up about her own fears, and begins learning the art of harp-making from an enigmatic teacher. Maybe love isn’t the enemy after all—and maybe allowing herself to fall is the most honest thing Quinn’s ever done.

Quinn doesn’t believe in grand gestures or true love, but Tarek does. When Quinn writes Tarek an email, confessing her feelings for him, she doesn’t hear back from him the whole year. Quinn works with her family’s wedding planning business and was surprised to find Tarek back from college for the summer, working with his family’s catering company. The two are determined to rekindle their friendship. However, along the journey, they realize the importance of finding yourself, finding each other, and understanding what love really means. We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon is such an authentic and sweet read to start the summer off right.

  • I always find writing a book review difficult when I absolutely love a book. With We Can't Keep Meeting Like This, all I want to do is flail and scream, “You need to read this fantastic book!” but here I have to put my love for the book in actual coherent words, when all I want to say is that I loved every single thing. I will try my best to say a bit more than that.
  • Rachel Lynn Solomon’s book, Today Tonight Tomorrow, was one of my favorite books of 2020 so I went into this hoping for another new favorite. And it did not disappoint.
  • Solomon’s writing is absolutely superb. She is able to capture the reader from the very first page. Also, I adore that Solomon is able to write authentic characters that make you feel like you, the reader, are a part of the story. Quinn, the protagonist, is someone you can easily become friends with and it seriously makes the book highly readable and fantastic.
  • Quinn is such a relatable character. She has always worked with her family in their wedding planning business but with college looming, she's not quite sure how to break it to her family that wedding planning may not be something she wants to do in the future. However, she isn’t even quite sure what she would like to do instead. This uncertainty and her worries are extremely relatable.
  • There are so many facets of Quinn’s life that readers get to read about. While the romance was sweet and heartwarming, I found Quinn’s journey of understanding herself and what she wanted to be much more moving. Solomon created a fantastic story with a lot of different moving parts, all woven together seamlessly. 
  • There is anxiety and OCD representation in this. While I cannot speak to the OCD representation, the anxiety representation was very well done. 
  • We Can't Keep Meeting Like This has a romance at its core. Plus, there's actual communication between the two characters and it's glorious. One thing I dislike about a lot of romances—YA romances, especially—is that there is a focus on a whole lot of kissing and thinking about kissing and not a whole lot of talking to each other and working out their feelings. This romance has a great balance of both, making it refreshing and lovely
With phenomenal writing, laugh out loud moments, and all the feels, We Can't Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon is a superb summer read that you'll want to return to again and again.

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Books on my TBR with Nature on the Cover

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

While the semester is finally over, I can't even promise that I'll begin to post more regularly because I'm taking several grad classes this summer to graduate early. However, no matter what happens, I hope you stick around because I've been reading some great books lately and would love to chat about them with you. I am getting back into the swing of things with a Top Ten Tuesday post. Yet, I am still switching it up since I chose to complete last week's prompt instead of this week's.


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: Top 10 Books With Nature on the Cover:


The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody: I’m always ready for a road trip novel. I’ve never read anything by Brody, but I am excited to give this one a go. Plus, road trip novels are best read during the summer so I hope to get to this one soon.

Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich: I’ve read everything by Kurtagich thus far except for this one and it is about time I pick this one up. The synopsis is super vague. It sounds like the book follows several generations. However, besides that, I have no clue what this book is about. I’m excited to find out.

Hunted by Meagan Spooner: If it’s a retelling from a classic, you can bet that I already have it on my shelf. This one is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and it sounds lovely!


The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow: When this released a year or two ago, a lot of people were hyping this up, even with mixed reviews. I couldn’t resist the gorgeous cover! And I adore portal fantasy so this sounds like it will be great for me!

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland: This one is my latest purchase; honestly, I bought it because everyone seems to be hyping it up lately. I’m excited to read this! Three sisters have mysteriously reappeared since they went missing but something isn’t what it seems.

The Cage by Megan Shepherd: I rarely read science fiction, but I am intrigued by the premise of this. A group of teens are kidnapped by aliens for a zoo exhibit. And, of course, there’s a forbidden romance thrown in somewhere too. It sounds different and it may be great! It is the first in a trilogy.


Beheld by Alex Flinn: I haven’t read a book by Flinn in a while. However, I adore how seamless Flinn is able to weave her fairytale imaginings. 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: Yes, I still haven’t read this one. I plan on getting to this one, at least, by the end of the year.

Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton: Isn’t that cover beautiful? I’ve never heard anyone talk about this book. It’s several years old and has been on my shelf for a very long time. It follows Elizabeth who doesn’t feel emotion, rather her emotions are personified. I’m not sure about the premise but we shall see.


The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron: I haven’t read a dystopian book in so long, but I still have this one on my shelf. I would love to read it someday. This is a start of a duology, where the townspeople lose their memories every 12 years. However, there is one girl who doesn’t forget.

What books do you want to read that have nature on the cover?

book review

A Mission Impossible Fantasy | Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Friday, March 26, 2021

 Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Publication Date: 9/29/15
Pages: 465
Source: purchased


Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . . A convict with a thirst for revenge A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager A runaway with a privileged past A spy known as the Wraith A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Kaz Brekker, turning into a proper thief, has made quite a reputation for himself in Ketterdam. When a Council member comes to him for help, Kaz knows it must be serious and something he can’t refuse—even if the mission may be impossible. Kaz and his gang of misfits must break into the Ice Court and kidnap a scientist who is working on building a deadly weapon. They may not survive the mission but the money will be good if they do.

Intense Right From the Start

  • I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. I’ve seen Six of Crows on Bookstagram, actually all over the web, and knew it was popular. After the read—this wild ride—it certainly lives up to the hype.
  • A book that can give you a reaction just in the first sentence is definitely the type of book you will love. I didn’t know what the book was about: I go into books blind these days, but how could I not laugh out loud with a first sentence like this: “Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.”
  • The writing is unbelievable, its flow and quotable nature can be compared to Renee Ahdieh (author of The Beautiful), who can make her grocery lists gorgeous (never having read Ahdieh’s grocery lists, I can’t rightly say but her writing is just so good—I’m sure there’s genius in every writing she does). Leigh Bardugo’s writing is beyond gorgeously visual—a masterpiece of fantasy. Also, you can tell that Bardugo is not afraid to kill off a few characters and shipwreck some couples. It’s absolutely fantastic in a refreshing sort of way. It makes for an unpredictable plot.
  • The world building was beyond enchanting. However, there were times that Bardugo would drop some term and you would just have to roll with it. I’m sure a lot of the world and terms are better explained in her Grisha trilogy (her series before Six of Crows) which I haven't read yet. Still even without reading the Grisha series, the farther you get into the story of Six of Crows, the more the world and terms begin to make sense. It is almost as if you’ve known the world all your life.
  • The maps in the book are extremely helpful. Also, the characters create one of the maps in the book so you are gazing upon the final creation of what you read in the plot, giving you a glimpse as if you yourself were a part of this group of thieves, a part of the story itself.
  • A lot of the plot is based on this plan to kidnap the scientist—to complete the mission, in its most basic sense. However, in Bardugo’s intense, gorgeous writing, she is able to keep us guessing what the true plan of action truly is. She rarely gives much away, leaving us in curiosity, piecing the puzzle of the plan together ourselves. It is pure genius.
  • Not only does the visual writing do wonders for the imaginative plot, the nonstop action makes it incredibly heart-stopping. Six of Crows would make a fabulous movie.

Real, Incredible Characters

  • Each chapter follows a new character but the multiple perspectives are neither confusing nor overwhelming. Each chapter builds upon the last, moving the story forward in a seamless way.
  • The dialogue is fabulous with sprinkles of humor at the right times throughout.
  • My love is strong for Kaz Brekker. He’s so intelligent, determined and most of all, real. He is the leader and mastermind of the group. His backstory is so perfect, beyond amazing.
  • The characters feel so real that I quickly shipped them off to one another as soon as I was introduced. Each twist in the plot, each turn weighs on your heart.

Overall

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is definitely worth every ounce of its hype. It is a fantasy which hooks you after the very first sentence. Six of Crows leaves you wanting more with a cliffhanger, and calls for an immediate reread to see how Bardugo dropped all those plot bombs: surprising twists and turns. Crooked Kingdom, the sequel in this superb duology, better be sitting nearby or you may not be able to wait in acquiring it.



Six of Crows (9/29/15): 5 stars
Crooked Kingdom (9/27/16): TBA

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Books On My Spring TBR (2021)

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

It’s been a minute since I posted, hasn’t it? I didn’t mean to take an entire month off but, I suppose, that’s what happened. Grad school started up again and I’m taking on a full schedule this semester. Plus, I am currently suffering the worst reading slump ever. In fact, I only read four whole books in February and started countless more books that I never finish (though I will pick them up again someday). Hopefully, things will turn around for me and I’ll be reading more this spring. I certainly have so many books I would like to pick up!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: Top 10 Books On My Spring TBR:


Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant: I haven’t heard a lot of people talk about this one. However, it’s a contemporary romance that is marketed as Jane the Virgin meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. That certainly sounds like my perfect book!

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston: The first book was a retelling of Cinderella, the sequel was Prince and the Pauper and the third one, it seems, will be a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I am so here for it!

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune: I feel like everyone has been reading and talking about this book. It sounds like such a cute read!


We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal: I really enjoyed We Hunt the Flame, Faizal’s 2019 debut. So, you can bet I’ll be reading this one soon. Her writing is so fantastic. I can’t wait to revisit the world!

Fable by Adrienne Young: To be honest, I picked this up because of the hype. I know very little about this book except that there’s pirates and thieves. I’m always on the look out for a fantastic pirate book!

The Project by Courtney Summers: I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about a cult before. After loving Sadie, I knew for sure I definitely wanted to pick up whatever Summers releases next! Lo works for a magazine and has just received the biggest scoop that will expose the cult she’s been researching. Lo hopes by exposing the cult, she can also reunite with her estranged sister, Bea, who is in the cult herself. Can't wait to read this one!


We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon (6/1/21): Today Tonight Tomorrow was one of my favorite books of last year; I have to read her new book! It follows a harpist and a waiter who work weddings, and if this isn’t ingredients for a charming YA romance, I don’t know what is.

Love and Olives by Jenna Evans Welch: You know how much I love amazing romances abroad. I’ve adored every other book in the companion series as well. Love and Olives is set in Greece and I can’t wait for some swoonworthy scenes in front of some gorgeous backdrops.

If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka: I can’t believe I hadn’t read anything by this author duo until last year. Since then, I’ve been slowly working through their backlist and this one is next on my list. It’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.


House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas: The size is a bit daunting but I think I want to try and tackle it this spring. I haven’t acquired her newest book in the ACOTAR series yet but I’d thought I would finish this one first. 

What are you planning on reading this spring?